Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Middle School Medieval History (grade 4-8)

Inexpensive Middle School Medieval History Curriculum

  1. Pick an interesting text to be your spine. For this grade/age range, we have used Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World HistoryA Child’s History of the World by V.M. Hillyer and Greenleaf Press' Famous Men of the Middle Ages and Story of the World, Volume 2: The Middle Ages by Susan Wise Bauer.
  2. Make notes of key words as you read. Begin by the teacher modeling this, and gradually have the student take over this activity. Have your student write a few sentences about what he has learned in his history notebook. If desired, add an illustration to the page, either sketched or copied from the internet. Another option is to use the Medieval History Portfolio, Homeschool Journey, which gives specific directions on what to write about and illustrations to add to the notebook pages.
  3. Read additional fictional books of the time-period. (Examples below.)
  4. Color and label an appropriate map and add this to the notebook so that it is across from the page he has just completed.
  5. Begin a timeline that covers the period you will be covering. After each notebook entry, mark significant dates on your timeline.
  6. Optional: Create a hands-on project that relates to the topic studied. (Examples below.)
  7. Feel free to further explore topics that come up during the study.

Early Middle Ages

Lesson 1: The Byzantine Empire 

Lesson 2: Monasticism

  • Fictional Book: Read The Holy Twins, Benedict and Scholastica by Kathleen Norris
  • Hands-On Project: Follow a monk's schedule for one day.

    A Monk's Schedule

    1:45 am - Wake Up
    2:00am - Church service: singing and prayers (Matins)
    3:30am - back to sleep
    4:00am - church service: singing and prayers (Lauds)
    5:00am - private scripture reading and prayer
    6:00am - Church service, then breakfast
    7:00am - Work
    8:00am - Church service: singing and prayers (terce)
    9:15am - work
    11:45am - Church service: singing and prayers (Sixtus)
    12:00pm - Midday meal
    1:00pm - Private reading and prayer
    1:45pm - sleep
    2:45pm - Church service: singing and prayers (Nones)
    3:00pm - Work
    5:45pm - Meal
    6:00pm - Church Service: singing and prayers (Vespers)
    7:15pm - Private reading and Prayer
    7:45pm - Church service: vespers
    8:00pm - Bed 

Lesson 3: Sui and Tang China

map from History Odyssey, Pandia Press

Lesson 4: Islam

Lesson 5: Persecution of the Jews

Lesson 6: North America

Lesson 7: The Bulgars and the Slavs

  • Topics for Study: Learn about Byzantine architecture.
Lesson 8: Carolingians

  • Hands-On Activity: Create an illuminated letter.
  • Questions to encourage deeper narrations:
    • What areas did the Muslims (Saracens) intend to conquer?
    • Describe the character of the French kinds of this period. What were they interested in? Describe the duties of the Mayor of the Palace.
    • Name two famous Mayors of the Palace and tell about what made them famous.
    • What was the significance of the Battle of Tours?
    • What does "Martel" mean and why was this name given to Charles?
    • Who interacted with the Saxons and the Lombards and what was the nature of the interaction?
    • Describe Charlemagne's attitude toward learning and in what ways did he attempt to further education in France?
    • Compare Charlemagne to Alexander the Great. How were they alike and how were they different?
Lesson 9: The Abbasid Dynasty

  • Read The Thousand and One Arabian Nights and The Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher.
  • Question to encourage deeper narrations: Discuss the relationship between Harun-al-Rashid and Charlemagne.
Lesson 10: Ghana

Lesson 11: Fujiwara Japan

  • Read "The Tales of Gengi." 
  • Explain how the Fujiwara family came into power and how the family ruled through regents. What is the Tales of Gengi? Include Fujiwara Yoshifusa and Lady Murasaki Shikibu. 

Lesson 12: Magyars and Bohemians 

Lesson 13: Anglo-Saxon Britain

  • Suggestions for narrations: the conflict between the Britons and the Saxons, comparing and contrasting them, how Christianity came to the British Isles, Egbert and what kind of ruler he was, including which ways Charlemagne influenced him and about Alfred the Great. Both Alfred and Clovis are considered by historians to be Christians. How would you compare these two men? Describe the rulers of England after the time of Alfred the Great.
  • If you have not already read Beowulf and the story of King Arthur, this would be a good time to read them. It is particularly fun to read Beowulf around the fireplace with the lights out to get in the mood.
  • Read Shakespeare's Macbeth.
Lesson 14: The Holy Roman Empire

Lesson 15: Capetian France

  • Example of a simple middle school narration:
Early Middle Ages: Capetian France (987-1328)
Capet was the nickname given to a Hugh Capet because of the short cape he wore. He was a French king and he aimed to gather the dukedoms into a united France. Louis the Fat made alliances with the church leaders against the Germans and the English. In 1152 King Louis VII's wife, Eleanor divorced him and married Henry II, the French-Norman king of England, putting Aquitaine under Norman rule. This began a conflict that lasted even after the Capetian rule fell.

Lesson 16: The Americas- Toltecs and Later Maya

Lesson 17: The Vikings

  • Example of Notebook pages.Quentin's (age 10) notebook, with notes of his narrations.Quentin's (age 10) notebook, with notes of his narrations.

Lesson 18: The Normans, pt. 2, pt. 3

  • Go through the story, making maps using maps (Medieval Maps) as a guide. 
  • Interview your student based on this lesson plan at Thinking History: Changes and Continuity: The Impact of the Norman Conquest. Have your student read the quotes and come up with questions that the interviewer could use with each of the quotes. Then, if your student wishes, have him dress up as a peasant and hold the interview, with you asking the questions he had written and take pictures.
  • Hold a historical inquiry.
  • Include appropriate dates on your timeline.
  • Sources and Resources for further study: Hastings (Battles) (Battles That Changed the World) by Samuel Willard Crompton, 1066: The Crown, the Comet and the Conqueror Paperback – January 1, 1996 by David Hobbs, Heritage History: William the Conqueror by Jacob Abbott, Heritage History: Days of William the Conqueror by E. M. Tappan, Thinking History: The Battle of Hastings Decisions on the Spur of the Moment?, Thinking History: The Events of 1066: Could it have ended differently?, Thinking History: Why Did William Want to Conquer England?, Battle of Hastings 1066 at History Learning Site, Battle of Hastings, Junior General.
Lesson 19: The Seljuk Turks

Lesson 20: China: The Song Dynasty

The Middle Ages

Lesson 21: The Crusades

  • Questions to think about: Why was Jerusalem considered the Holy Land? Imagine traveling to the Holy Land. Write a letter home telling about what you saw and heard. Who fought in the Crusades? Why did people join the Crusades? Why didn't more peasants serve in the Crusades? Some knights brought their entire families along. Why did they do that? Discuss the positive results of the failed Crusades. What did the Abbasids, Seljuk Turks, and the Fatimids have in common? (their religion) Why might they struggle to unite to fight against the Crusaders? (rivalries for power)
  • Duplicate a map of Europe and draw a routes of the pilgrims to the Holy Land. ( Damascus, Acre, Tyre, Tripoli, Hattin, Antioch, France, German Empire, Asia, Mediterranean Sea, Italian States, Rome, North Africa, Palestine, Egypt, The Balkans, Syria, Anatolia, Byzantium Empire, Byzantium, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Crusader States, Outremer, Holy Land.)
  • Additional Resources: Thinking History: Getting Started with the Crusades

Lesson 22: Knighthood


Lesson 23: Henry of Anjou

Lesson 24: Ireland

  • Read about Saint Patrick and record what you have learned in your history notebook.
Lesson 25: Shoguns and Samurai

  • Describe the feudal society of Japan by defining:
    • shogun
    • Code of Bushido
    • daimyos
    • samurai
    • hara-kiri
    • Minamoto Yoritomo
    • Zen Buddism (When the Chinese first introduced Buddhism to Japan, they rejected its harsh principals, so it was altered into Zen, which seemed gentler and kinder. It meshed well with their ancient religion, Shinto. It became the religion of the samurai.)
  • Read Tales of the Heike from Tales from Japan. There was a turning point in Japanese history during the early part of the 12th century. The power of the Fujiwara faded and the Gempei civil war broke out. Two warrior clans grew in power, the aristocratic Heike and the Genji. Each clan had massive armies. Tales of the Heike is a long narrative epic that was sung and recited long before it was written down. The moral that the proud will surely be destroyed comes from the Buddhist religion. The tales glorify the samurai while the proud aristocratic family is destroyed. As you read, look for the moral and evidence of the Code of Bushido. The Code of Bushido:
    • loyalty to one's lord
    • denial of self
    • self sacrifice and bravery
    • live a simple life
    • control emotions
    • mental and physical discipline
    • desire an honorable death
  • Compare Medieval Japan and Medieval England. (islands, castles, military overlords, religions introduced, minstrels, feudal system. Compare the levels of the Feudal systems of both countries.
  • Compare and contrast a samurai to a knight, using Tales from Japan and King Arthur. including the characteristics of each.
Lesson 26: European Trade

Lesson 27: Venice

Lesson 28: Charter and Parliament

Lesson 29: Mali and Ethiopia

Lesson 30: Benin and Zimbabwe

Lesson 31: Religion in the Middle Ages 

Lesson 32: The Mongol Empire

Lesson 33: Aztecs and Incas

Lesson 34: Medieval Explorers

Lesson 35: The Hundred Years' War

Lesson 36: The Black Death

Lesson 37: China: The Ming Dynasty

Quentin (age 11) decided to make a timeline that shows what was happening in the West on the left and the Chinese Dynasties listed on the right, with the approximate dates in the middle.

Lesson 38: Constantinople

Lesson 39: The Khmer Empire

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